CWR helps save a key community health center

At the end of December 2008, the leadership of Santa Clara County received unexpected news. Timpany Center, a key county facility providing warm water therapy to disabled residents, would be closing in a few weeks.  The contracted vendor had run up massive deficits running the center and had suddenly announced it was pulling out in four weeks.  Almost a thousand users would soon be left without a critical component of their health care.

The County Board of Supervisors wanted to respond but needed guidance on several questions:

  • What was the nature of the need in the county?  
  • Why had the previous operator failed?
  • Were there other feasible models of operation?

The executive tasked with the effort, County Budget Director Leslie Crowell, turned to Consulting Within Reach to deliver the answers. 

Our proven ability to deliver high end results under extremely short deadlines was critical to her.  Every week the Center remained closed, the health consequences for the fragile user base would mount.  Leslie asked CWR to deliver a comprehensive report in under four weeks.

Our team mobilized overnight on several fronts:

  • Demographic research on the County
  • One on one interviews with over 100 Timpany Center users and online surveys of even more
  • Site visits to similar facilities in the Bay Area
  • Financial analysis of the previous operator's business model
  • Interviews with medical, business, and community stakeholders

CWR synthesized the extensive research into a comprehensive report.  And we delivered the findings ahead of schedule.

The report demonstrated that the feasibility of Timpany Center depended on transforming it from just a pool providing only warm water therapy to a community wellness center offering a broader array of services.  We also analyzed the potential partnerships with other institutions that would be required for such a transformation. 

CWR especially recommended San Jose State University, suggesting that its Kinesiology Department's need for service learning opportunites for its student therapists, trainers, and recreation leaders might match with the new concept required. 

After hearing CWR lead consultant Curtis Chang present the findings, the Board of Supervisors decided to explore the proposed model.  Budget Director Leslie Crowell enlisted Curtis to provide ongoing guidance in developing an agreement with San Jose State.   Curtis also drew on his background in public policy to devise a strategy to build the appropriate political and community support for the new approach.

On the morning of April 6th, hundreds of disabled residents gathered at the Timpany Center reopening.  Welcoming them were San Jose State students and professors who were operating the facility and laying the groundwork for ideas like a stroke recovery clinic, health education classes, parent-child swim classes, and more.  As a result, at a time of government cutbacks, Santa Clara County is poised to actually expand its offerings at Timpany Center, and even reduce its costs in the process.

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